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Owner overjoyed as Coastguard rescues pet terrier who plunged 12ft down a cliff

By Laura Abernethy

Published 06/01/2016

Owner and dog are reunited after the clifftop rescue operation
Owner and dog are reunited after the clifftop rescue operation
Owner and dog are reunited after the clifftop rescue operation
Owner and dog are reunited after the clifftop rescue operation

This was the moment a distraught dog owner was reunited with his beloved pet after it fell over a cliff edge.

The man and his two sons were out walking their tiny dog on the Ballyhornan coastal path near Newcastle at around 6pm on Monday.

The dog slipped over the edge of the cliff and fell around 12 to 15ft into a deep ravine and spent hours sitting on a narrow cliff ledge as his owner watched from above.

The man called the police who then asked the Coastguard for assistance and teams from Newcastle and Kilkeel sprang into action to rescue the terrier pup.

Newcastle Coastguard station officer Paul Symington said: "The ravine was about 20 metres deep and the dog was about 12 to 15ft below the level of the cliff. It was a very narrow little ledge that he was sitting on.

"He was inches away. If he'd gone another few inches, he would have fallen into the sea below. It was a straight drop. He only just got himself stopped on that ledge and then somehow managed to cling on."

Around 16 officers from the Newcastle and Kilkeel Coastguard had to trek on foot, carrying their heavy equipment, for almost a mile after their 4x4s got stuck in the boggy fields.

Paul explained: "We had trouble getting there, because it's very isolated. There are no roads and we had to go across fields. The fields are absolutely saturated and it was very difficult."

When they reached the top of the cliff, they were met by the dog owner and his sons, who were frantic with worry.

One of their officers, Eamon Rooney, was the hero of the day as he climbed down the cliff face to save the dog and place him back in the arms of his owners.

Paul added: "At one point, we weren't sure if the dog was still there because it had stopped barking, but as Eamon went over the edge, he started to make some noise again. It was a fairly straightforward operation once we got there. The dog wasn't injured. He was in great form."

Paul praised the owner for calling the emergency services and for waiting for the specially trained cliff team.

He said: "The owner did the right thing. A lot of incidents that occur around the coast of the UK and Ireland come from people trying to rescue dogs by themselves. They look down and they think it's only a couple of feet and they can do it themselves, but then they get into trouble. They can fall and it becomes much more serious.

"They did the right thing by calling 999. We train to do these sorts of things and it's very straightforward for us, but it could have been very dangerous for him. Even if it looks like it's accessible, if you lose your footing, it can be terrible."

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